Tax preparation and accounting software maker Intuit Inc. (INTU) posted a narrower quarterly loss Wednesday as the company said its QuickBooks (search) business drove sales.

The fourth-quarter net loss for the period ended July 31 was $20.0 million, or 11 cents per share, compared with a loss of $42.1 million, or 22 cents, per share a year ago.

Excluding items, the company said it posted a loss of $14.7 million, or 8 cents per share. On this basis, analysts on average were expecting a per-share loss of 10 cents.

Revenue increased 17 percent to $301.8 million, driven by demand for its QuickBooks-related business. The company, which generates most of its revenue during tax season, typically posts a loss during the first and fourth quarters as expenses stay the same but demand shrinks.

Looking ahead to the first-quarter of 2006, Intuit said it sees revenue up 7 percent to 13 percent at between $270 million to $285 million. It pegged its operating loss at $111 million to $121 million.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company forecast a per-share net loss of 38 cents to 43 cents for the same period. Excluding items, the company said it expects per-share loss to range from 30 cents to 35 cents.

For the full-year, the company pegged revenue from $2.18 billion to $2.24 billion. It said it expects a full-year, per-share net profit of between $1.86 to $1.96, down 3 percent to 8 percent due to the expensing of employee stock options and a higher tax rate.

The Wall Street view was for first quarter revenue of $279.5 million and a per-share net loss of 28 cents. Expectations for a per-share loss excluding items was 25 cents.

The company forecast full-year earnings per-share excluding items at $2.19 to $2.29. Analysts on average were expecting the company to post a net-per-share profit of $2.23 on revenue of $2.19 billion.

The Wall Street view for a per-share profit excluding items was $2.29.

Shares of Intuit fell 1.7 percent in after hours trading to $45.55 from a Nasdaq close of 46.33.